There has been some debate of Ryu vs. E.Ryu between Kris G./Omar and the rest of the country but they both belong in top tier somewhere. E.Ryu loses the ability to do Strong DP as wakeup (as well as Akuma) but he has lots of Custom Tricks to make up for it.
Sirlin thinks that Rose is the weakest of the top tier simply because at high levels she gets AC Reversal’ed the majority of the time and people were learning how to custom through her Low Strong with some consistency.
Chun Li outright beats everyone though. Half the game simply doesn’t work on her and she beats amost everything with low forward. Plus she has a command overhead that does block damage and is bufferable and her Level 1 CC does 50% even if you jump in with it (say vs. Dragon Punch). She lacks nothing in this game. Plus Low Forward XX Fireball is natural AC Reversal against stuff like Ken’s AC (if he AC’s the Low Forward) since she bends back to throw the fireball, hella stuff misses her.
One of the best versions of Zangief ever IMO. Jump in Knee (with Forward) into SPD is near impossible for majority of the cast unless they have meter. Plus you can grab on 1st frame of them getting up, so say vs. Rose who has no reversal aside from meter you can knock her down and grab her if you are in range. Even though down/toward+Roundhouse is the worst way for him to start off customs (yes it’s got distance but a lot of stuff beats it cleanly) his customs do mega damage with Jab green hands.
Rolento has one of the best normals in the game and cannot be blocked on reaction - low fierce. It has to be blocked low in this game and you can play footsies with it rocking fools. His custom is no joke and he has tricks like Kick AC into Custom for some serious damage.
Japan never really played A2, especially as much as america did. A2 is definitely an american game like MvC2, we know wayyyyyyyy more about this game than Japan, easily.